Burford Road, BLACK BOURTON, Bampton, OX18 2PF
Built of Cotswold stone, The Vines is discreetly set back from the road behind a screen of bushes. During the 1940s, it would have heaved as dozens of American airmen based at nearby Brize Norton packed themselves in and learnt to love English beers. Today, spacious and smartly decorated and furnished, it belongs to Ahdy and Karen Gerges, who maintain its excellent reputation. Leather sofas in the spacious lounge area by the log fire are the perfect place for a pint of Old Hooky from the Hook Norton brewery about 24 miles away, or maybe you'd prefer to drift patio-wards with a glass of wine for a game of Aunt Sally, a time-honoured pub game involving throwing sticks at an old woman's head (wooden of course). The menu lists imaginative, internationally influenced, modern British dishes, all freshly prepared from locally sourced produce. Typical starters include deep-fried breaded brie wedges with cranberry dip; spaghetti with clams in rich garlic and parsley sauce; and a special, bresaola and parmesan salad. Loin of pork stuffed with sage and onion is served with rosemary and garlic potatoes and red wine sauce; and grilled rib-eye steak comes with chips, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes and peppercorn sauce. Other possibilities are venison steak with mash, garlic, red wine and rosemary sauce, and fish of the day. Typical home-made puddings are lemon posset; and warm chocolate brownie with ice cream. A good selection of Old and New World wines is always available. Food and drink can be served in the garden.